Home study?

The Irish Independent reported on Saturday that a majority of students are choosing a university or college in their vicinity. University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin all have well over 60 per cent of their students coming from their own city or county or those immediately adjacent; they are, perhaps oddly, Ireland’s most regional universities. The universities with a slightly more balanced ‘national’ student population are NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway and my own DCU.

I’m not sure what, if anything, this tells us about the institutions in question; but overall it tells us that there is a trend for students to seek out a third level institution near them, in many cases probably so that they can live at home while doing their studies. I don’t have reliable statistics to hand, but my impression certainly was when I was a student that my fellow students’ family homes were more evenly distributed around the country.

Then again, maybe this has nothing to do with the recession or indeed any economic trends, but is more the result of university intakes being more inclusive than in the past, with a smaller percentage coming from the higher income groups who would have a tradition (and the means) of living away from home while studying. It is however worth observing that a possible consequence may be that university campus life may be affected, as greater numbers of students leave at 5 pm or thereabouts to get home, with ‘home’ not necessarily being in the immediate neighbourhood of the college.

Developments such as this, perhaps even more than education policy or pedagogical changes, have the potential to alter the nature of the university experience. It is one more element that should make us review whether our institutions appropriately address student needs and expectations.

Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, society, students, university

11 Comments on “Home study?”

  1. kevin denny Says:

    Its an interesting pattern, I think that has also happened in the UK over a longer period. I presume its a consequence of parents – and students- having less money. Although, on the other hand, the cost of renting is falling quite a bit.
    I think of this as a bad trend: aside from the effects on campus life, it is good for students to get away from home. It broadens the mind, gives them opportunities and challenges they wouldn’t have otherwise. Oh,and its fun.

    • Wendymr Says:

      In the UK it’s been a combination of the abolition of the student maintenance grant – which would enable students to afford the cost of halls of residence or local rental accommodation, as well as other living expenses – and the introduction of fees. If students can live at home, then, yes, it’s cheaper.

  2. Vincent Says:

    I’ve feel you are not quite correct for the dim and distant. I, while at Galway would very rarely find someone from the city, for the simple reason if they could go home they went at whatever time they finished the last lecture. Further, they came with their own clubs and Soc’s from High School and their wider community, nor they would not be caught dead in a student pub any-more than I would go to a
    tourist pub. Mind you the main difference over the last ten years other than Chuck’s Gift is that a healthy number of students will own a car. This kinda knocks on the head the usual Irish icebreaker.


  3. I pity those fools who don’t take the opportunity to explore life outside their native sod.

  4. Joe Kiniry Says:

    Most of my students are not just from Dublin, they are from D4!

    When I discovered this enormous trend my first year here, during the boom years mind you, I was disturbed at its deeper implications. Coupled with the broken CAO scheme, it means most students choose to study whatever course they can get into with the highest points at the university nearest to Mom.

    Funny how in the U.S.A. many students attempt to go to the best university they can get into that is as *far* as possible from home, and somehow they afford all those heinous room & board and tuition fees….

    Consequently, I can’t even get the vast majority of my brightest students to *apply* to a graduate school outside of UCD, let alone one outside of Ireland! In *five years* only three of the top students in our course have chosen to leave Ireland for graduate school or a top job, and only *one* of them was from the Republic.


    • Joe, I agree that the educational experience is impoverished as a result…

    • Allen Says:

      “Funny how in the U.S.A. many students attempt to go to the best university they can get into that is as *far* as possible from home, and somehow they afford all those heinous room & board and tuition fees….”

      So should Irish students go into the extreme levels of debt Americans do just to get the full college experience?

      • Joe Kiniry Says:

        What does the typical debt of a student in the U.S.A. (or the typical debt of the typical student in IE, for that matter) have to do with my comment above? Free or not, students here do not move out of their home counties.

        Europeans always hear about/comment on the high costs of education in the U.S.A., but then do not admit to understanding that virtually all high-quality students obtain scholarships for the vast majority of their costs. All this while bemoaning the poor standings of so many “free” universities in Europe in international rankings, when compared to those in the U.S.A.

        I’d advocate you get what you pay for…and I work here, mind you.


  5. There are a number of complex interacting factors here:

    1 – The population of Galway or Maynooth is much less than that of Dublin or Cork so naturally universities in Galway and Maynooth will have a smaller percentage of their students from the same city.

    2 – DCU is harder to reach by public transport than TCD. This is a big factor for Dublin natives planning to travel from home, but less of a factor for natives of other parts of Ireland who will choose rented accommodation on campus or at least convenient to the university

    3 – Students everywhere have a natural tendency to prefer living away from home during these formative years. Parents would prefer if they lived at home in order to save costs. The relative strengths of these conflicting forces will be different in Ireland with “free fees” than in USA where accommodation costs are likely to be less than the fees.

  6. cormac Says:

    Again: the braindrain of many of the best students from waterford and the southeast region to the universities of Dublin and Cork – not to return – will continue as there is no local university for them


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